About this blog..

This is a blog that I started in April 2006, just after I first put on my bogu (kendo armour). It collects the advices given by more experienced kendo practitioners as well as those from my own experiences. Both technical and the mental aspects of kendo are written in the blog. I hope someone will find them useful or interesting at least!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Shyugyo 4 - friends and teachers

Yesterday was the end of my first week here. I feel that I had only been on a beginner's course, and now gradually I'm starting to receive more specific advices. In the afternoon I went to the Nippon Sport Science University (or Nittaidai) which trains the sportsman of the highest calibre in the country and the world. Sensei teaches once a week kendo here, and he invited me to come along. The session is short. Only about 1 hour - 30mins exercises and 30 mins jigeiko. They started with kirikeishi, followed by men-uchi, kote-taiatari-kote-taiatari-kote-taiatari, and ai-kakarigeiko. I had a jigeiko with a sempai of the class, and Hakamada sensei (7th Dan).

Advices from the class members and sensei:
  • Take large steps for taiatari.
  • Sharper cuts for kirikeishi.
  • Put more pressure forwards and don't retreat once during attack.
A couple of hours afterwards the training in Kobukan started. During the kihon Ozawa-sensei was watching me. He told me to cut do sharper. I did as told and from my peripheral eye-sight I saw him nodding his head. I think he is emphasizing that now I should work on speed and sharpness.

I had only the time yesterday evening to have a jigeiko with Ozawa-sensei. I was happy enough with my performance. I wasn't caring that much about winning but holding my centre and my posture. I tried to go through every time when I struck men regardless of if my kote was hit (which happened a few times yesterday). I think sensei thinks jigeiko for me is not important at this stage, instead I should concentrate on Kihon. So, my jigeiko was a combination of sparring and uchi-komigeiko. Afterall, I never expected I can win a 7th Dan at the stage of kendo I am in. Perhaps I hit target, but so what? The beauty of kendo is what counts. In the past week, I have learned that the kendo style many people consider amazing and powerful in Europe are considered as kids' kendo in Japan. The past week has been overwhelming for me just to look at the people in Kobukan training and having matches with each other. There is a goal which everyone is working towards, but in their own different ways. Sometimes even how they hit is different. Some people use more shoulders and less wrist, and some people do the opposite. Sensei told me one should always do big cuts in kihon for ten years, and then he can start to think about doing small cuts. For me, he said, 5 more years.

After the training I went for a drink and some food with Kuroda-san. It was a very pleasant chat with him, and I am very happy to see him and Yasuko again in Japan. He was watching my match with sensei this evening and gave me some very valuable advices.
  • The chance for debana-kote or men is when the opponent moves his left foot forwards. So one should be careful about this, and also try to identify the chance.
He told me that I have centre and, in his opinion, only 5% of people have the centre. So that is very encouraging despite I have only done kendo in such short time. I told him the story about how I wanted to do kendo when I was little but couldn't because of the difficult education system in Taiwan, until I was old enough to decide what I wanted to do, plus a few years of hesitation. We exchange many interesting kendo-related and non-related ideas. I have a feeling that he will become a great kendo teacher one day.

I said to him that in five years we will have a shobu. :)


Martin said...

hey ivan! greetings from germany :)
i really enjoy reading your posts! thanks for your detailed descriptions of the very valuable advices given to you. and it's very interesting to read your thoughts about your kendo. so keep on posting!!

btw. your dojo picture is really neat!


Vivian Yung said...

Wow, I sat at the exact same place as you sat holding the beer cup up two years ago. Did you also try the horse meat there? =P

Ivan said...

Jo Martin!! Glad you are enjoying the pictures and the stories! I'll see you soon in a week!

Ivan said...

Hi Vivian, that's funny you were there! I didn't try the horse meat there, but had it elsewhere in Tokyo. Nice texture I like it! In fact I think I'll go there in a few minutes, since they open until 3 or 4 am.